Turning 30

I pretty much like getting older.
Its kind of comforting, freeing, hopeful and exciting but milestones are pretty scary.

When I was about 15 I had a list of things to achieve before I was 21 (which gradually became 30) – at 15 the list had things like have sex with a man, have sex with a woman, get a degree, take certain drugs, own my own throwing knives, travel to every continent, skydive etc… I did a lot of those things but there were always more experiences and more targets to reach.
I want to tell you that I am proud of what I have done with my life and sometimes I am.. my relationships, my marriage, my doctorate. – all not inconsiderable and all pale gently beside actually living day-to-day
I really am consistently amazed by those strange people who get up every morning like its no big deal – getting out of bed like it doesn’t hurt, like you don’t want to curl up and cry. How do people do jobs and housework without collapsing? What is with leaving the house *every* day?
Nothing makes you feel like a failure like looking at the careers and families of your peers… Knowing the reasons that I don’t have a full-time permanent job and 3 kids (depression, anxiety, chronic pain, relationship choices & financial planning a.k.a. laziness,  cowardliness, deviance & lack of ambition) doesn’t make me feel less like I should be coping better.

Every time I hit a “life event” I start to miss my mother. Its a silly thing, on the basis I no longer have any idea about how she would react to my life now, how she’d feel about modern life like the internet and mobile phones, I can’t imagine what the arguments of my teenage life would have been like, or the discussions about my partners, what her opinions on my wedding might have been or her recommendations about my career. I can’t imagine what my relationship with her would be like and I have no understanding of other people’s relationships with their mothers at all. It seems almost ridiculous to guess and even more daft to still crave her approval and yet I still get blindsided by her loss at inopportune moments.

I guess the point is, if I ever thought I would get to 30 this isn’t what I expected. I am kinda disheartened by the whole process in that I am not all grown-up and barrelling along with my glorious life. In fact I kinda don’t know what next…

  • I did the doctorate (which I might add in no way makes up for secondary school & undergrad, sorry) but don’t want to be a lecturer – I think in terms of continuing research its got to be publications
  • I found my special someone… and someone… – the next obvious step must be kids which I think I (we?) want but what about the: money, organising, prejudice, fear.
  • I have *a* job – I don’t have a real income generator, or even a full time position and I really want to feel like I am contributing financially – next step is erm decide what I can actually do? Could I run a pub? Work in a museum? Even actually manage 9-5?

I don’t feel old, I feel young. But I am jaded, bitter and scared and I only see an economy and a political system that doesn’t want me.
So what now?


Another Year

Yesterday marked 5 years with B.
(Happy Anniversary my Love)

Soon it will be 12 years since I left home for university and a little later in the year 11 since I made my commitment to W.
It seems almost unimaginable how much my life has developed and changed in those 5 years and in the 7 before that.

A civil-partnership, a house, a doctorate. 2 strong, committed and positive relationships.
What did I do right?

Lucky Me.


Resolutions 2013 reprise

So its June now and that must mean its about time to reassess my goals for the year.
As might be expected I am not wholly pleased…

  1. Weight – 12 stone or less
    Actually this is one area I have started making progress in. W has started a low GI diet and it is helping me drop closer to my target.
  2. Exercise – 5x brisk 20 min walks/ week; 1x 30 mins swimming/week; 20 sit-ups 6x/week; 5mins shoulder stretches everyday & 5 mins knee stretches everyday
    Sigh. Such good intentions- such regular failure. I do manage to walk most days of the week but if I manage one set of sit-ups and one of either knee or shoulder exercises per week I am doing well. I am still failing at swimming
  3. Mindfulness – restart some meditation practices
  4. Housework – This will also involve a schedule, scrubbing & hoovering
    Um I do housework… but it remains ridiculously disorganised and I still have managed to get back to my 2 house rota
  5. Conferences & Publication – 2 Conference papers, 2 + articles, monograph proposal…
    I have given 1 paper & rewritten it to the extent I let some other people read it. The next paper will be this weekend. I started writing an article but don’t think I have written fast enough to get it in the journal I wanted so may have to do something else with it. Feeling guilty about not having submitted a monograph proposal though
  6. Job – at least 1 application per month
    I have applied for 2 fellowships and 3 other jobs so far this year. Both fellowships were no gos, neither of the office jobs even asked me to interview and I’m not very hopeful about the brewery job either. Sigh.
  7. Holidays – At least 1 new Munro (with B?) & 1 city-break with W
    So far the 3 of us went to Cornwall together and I have a hol in Scotland (with mountains) booked with B. Finding schedule/time to do something positive with W is proving harder
  8. Irish – Start learning to speak it..
    Um occasionally I think I have learnt a new word – but actually I feel guilty about neglecting my greek and latin so am going back to them a bit more often

Beer Festival 2013

Another year another CAMRA beer festival
A somewhat rearranged and controversial affair this year, it was at least blessed with some sunshine.

For me though it was mostly a reminder that I am older and more broken than I once was.
It seems rather frighteningly that I have been volunteering at this festival for almost ten years. I have done my time at the bar, sat behind membership and at products (kind of a CAMRA gift stall that also does soft drinks); I have run backwards and forwards on traditional pub games, shouting and hustling for all I was worth; I have hefted scaffolding, built bars and lugged firkins; I have worked for a number of years on the cellar team and for plenty of that time I have also worked at the pub.
Double shifts are exhausting.
Somehow every year I forget just how exhausting.

The last couple of years have really taken their toll on me. The new type of breakdown and subsequent anti-depressants reduced the amount of exercise I was taking and helped me pile on the weight [In the c. 4 months I took Mirtazapine I put on over a stone & the same in the 6 months I took prozac before that]. Worse, the last 2 and a half (plus) years of shoulder pain and 9 months of knee issues have left me constantly exhausted and unable to do a fair number of my normal activities.

Some days I notice how much movement, strength and energy I have lost.
It hurts.
Physically and Mentally.




On a related but very different note – I think I get more pissed off every year at the self-righteousness of CAMRA members and volunteers about how much better They could run the festival.


On living with Privilege

How do you put your hands up to those things that allow you better access to social respect and activities in the environment that you live in without whinging about the aspects where you struggle? How do you go one step further and use those privileges in a positive fashion?
Its really easy to qualify your positives by enunciating the negatives but how do you manage the interfaces?

I happen to be:

  • White [in a neighbourhood & country where not only is that is that the majority but it is the historical norm]
  • Culturally average in proportion (height, weight, shape ratios)
  • In possession of all my limbs and able to use them to carry out basic daily functions
  • My chosen gender presentation matches the genitalia I was born with
  • Sighted & Hearing
  • Not living with a neurological condition
  • Brought up without fear of deprivation (hunger, cold, loss of home etc.)
  • Brought up broadly safe from the threat of violence (not in a civil-war zone, social area with widely respected rule of law)
  • Given a regular education, not at odds with social norms and enabling developmental progression
  • Competent in the achievement of local educational goals
  • Financially solvent [and educated in such a way as to comprehend local financial practices – e.g. taxes, credit-systems, wages etc] enough to maintain adult independence

And probably a whole load of other things I haven’t even thought about.
I am trying to work out the way I can notice and demonstrate that the things that I sometimes take for granted are not straightforward and use my position to help changes happen.
My key thought-process at the moment revolves around education – my knowledge and ability to critically analyse the world is a privilege like no other in that it allows me to dissect other issues; it has given me an awareness of so many things outside of my experience, encouraged-no forced- me to take uncomfortable viewpoints and just plain thrown hard truths at me. So I’m going to spend a little time thinking about the parts of my education that really matter and why.

I’ll get back to you on this topic.. I hope.

The problem with beds

I really like my bed.
I really like sleeping.
I enjoy curling up in bed beside W.
I enjoy curling up in bed beside B.

The trouble is some of these things are mutually exclusive…
Not only is it inappropriate for me to share a bed with both of them despite the comfort I get from lying beside my loves and knowing they are warm and safe I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I tend to get better sleep when I am in bed alone. This is further complicated by the fact that they both get mopey if they spend too long without the opportunity to fall asleep and wake up at my side.

There is no easier way to protect and comfort someone than to be physically close. In a world of uncertainty and often of pain I can think of nothing I would rather do than keep my loved ones close – but on the other hand I have to deal with the fact that my pain problems and general mood often make sleep difficult or disturbed and without plenty of sleep I can help no one.

I don’t think anyone ever told me that this was going to be something to worry about when I was growing up… thank the gods for ‘first world problems’…


Timing – scheduling & biological clocks

Tonight I am thinking about planning.
As I try to juggle the google calendar to make sure that W & B get an equitable division of my time each week that fits around all of our various commitments and work on what holidays we can arrange I am acutely aware of the drawbacks of my ‘lifestyle choice’. Both W & B are permanently compromising even more than most people to make this work and sometimes that is really hard.
How should I decide what will make them feel valued? What about individual emotional crises or changeover periods? How much do I take control and how much input can they have to the overall schedule so that they both feel involved and yet don’t tread on each others toes or feel embarassed about asking for stuff?

It makes me worry about how much more complicated it will be if I get a full time job.. a brand new set of negotiations and compromises and perhaps more fragile feelings. I know that we can manage because actually each of us are committed not only to each other but to making sure that as little pain as possible is involved. I know that sometimes I worry too much and that everyone has bad days or needs that they aren’t sure how to communicate straight away but that we can manage.

And this leads me to my other topic…
More and more I notice how much W is tempted and terrified by the idea of kids, I know that B would secretly like children but feels that soon he will be too old and that there is no way the hurdles can be negotiated.
I am torn. I feel more like I could build a family with both of them than I ever knew was possible – that whilst children frighten me, it wouldn’t be a chore to watch my wife be the mother she should be or my boy giving that extra part of himself, maybe just maybe they would enough to make me good enough to be a parent.
But will time run out before the worries and troubles can be overcome. How is it possible to give W the family she craves which doesn’t make her, B or me feel alienated?
And if we did how would I possibly manage my calendar?


summer crazy

So, post week with my parents in Italy and a trip to the Olympics, I have planned a week with my in-laws (w’s parents) then a trip to scotland for all three of us and visits to the paralympics. Plus all of us are still working: W is doing online stuff from the olds (muchos stress), i am at the pub and b is delivering as per normal and I need to crack on thesis-wise and get a ‘real’ job for money reasons

as you might expext i feel a little like i am losing it round the edges, not actually broken but the cracks are wider than they should be; but hell what’s life without a challenge and i have a fab family to keep on wrapping me up and reminding me they love me.  plus puppy always wants love..


Re-asserting Order after the Chaos

Right Where Am I?
Sorry I have been afk for a bit due to the time and energy constraints of our local beer festival. However, I think I have regained a semblance of whatever it is that passes for normality in my daily life. That is I have removed the swathes of mud from our houses and started trying to catch up on my laundry mountain, we are also beginning to settle back into a weekly routine and I have opened up my thesis for the first time in nearly two weeks…

For someone who prides themself on their flexibility and ability to be accommodating and who consistently fails to adhere to any personal daily routine  I have discovered that my mental and physical well-being is somewhat dependent on some stability.
By which I mean that I quickly become physically and mentally exhausted by trying to keep up with unusual circumstances. I know that working long hours and seeing more people than usual has contributed to my sense of being overwhelmed and fatigued; but I also know that the stress of not getting regular alone time with my loved ones and of household chores and thesis-writing building up while I was otherwise occupied has left me drained.
I am also extra tired out by my continued inability to walk properly, squat or kneel for more than 30 secs or stand for any length of time. The physiotherapist has given me a series of exercises and the threat of an onward referral should the knee have failed to improve by my next visit. I would love to tell you that this spate of exercises for my knee has inspired a renewed vigour in doing my shoulder exercises but sadly that would be a lie – I have yet to successfully incorporate that into a daily routine.
However, as commented above steps towards normality have resumed and most of all I am able to get more sleep/more time in bed each day and more time loving and being loved.

Coming soon: A rundown on the wonderful world of mud and beer; commentary on a variety of medical delights; and Rain and my Garden…

Being Busy

After New Year I have spent the week tidying and working and organising and negelcting writing – and I am about to not write some more whilst I go on holiday with my wife.
The plan is that after spending Christmas with my parents and New Year with B, I will spend a week enjoying the company of W away from out commitments and fears.

Tomorrow, she and I will head off – she will be aiming to get all the coursework marked and to spend time with me pottering, relaxing and looking at the sites. My plan is to dedicate a little time to PhD, spend a little time to trying to get an exercise routine going  and relax.
At the moment I fel like I can’t plan routines for 2012 or really diet etc until this hol is over.. I want to do lots this year and I am struggling already. gah

Also please will someone tell my joints to pack it in. This is really very uncomfortable!